November 30, 2009
The study found that the wasted food had large environmental impacts in the United States as well: food waste in America consumes approximately 300 million barrels of oil every year from fossil fuels used in farming. In 2003 this was 4 percent of the nation's total oil consumption, which is one of the nation's largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The researchers note that another hidden factor—rotting food—links food waste and climate change. Rotting food "produces substantial quantities of methane-gas with 25 fold more potent global warming potential than CO2 which would have been the primary end product had the food been eaten and metabolized by humans" the researchers write.
Wasted food is also impacting America's freshwater supply. According to the study a quarter of all freshwater usage in the US goes to produce food that is never eaten.
"Assuming that agriculture utilizes about 70% of the freshwater supply, our calculations imply that more than one quarter of total freshwater use is accounted for by wasted food," the researchers explain.
The study used data from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) regarding the amount of food grown in America. But to decipher how much food was actually consumed and how much wasted the study employed a complex mathematical model that factored in that the average weight of Americans has risen steadily over the past 30 years.
CITATION: Hall KD, Guo J, Dore M, Chow CC (2009) The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7940. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007940.
200 million more people going hungry
(10/26/2009) The war on hunger is becoming a rout—and we're losing. The UN World Food Program (WFP) announced today that during the last two years 200 million more people are going hungry.
Kenya's pain: famine, drought, government ambivalence cripples once stable nation
(09/17/2009) Kenya was once considered one of Sub-Saharan Africa's success stories: the country possessed a relatively stable government, a good economy, a thriving tourist industry due to a beautiful landscape and abundant wildlife. But violent protests following a disputed election in 2007 hurt the country's reputation, and then—even worse—drought and famine struck the country this year. The government response has been lackluster, the international community has been distracted by the economic crisis, and suddenly Kenya seems no longer to be the light of East Africa, but a warning to the world about the perils of ignoring climate change, government corruption, and the global food and water shortages.
Alleviating poverty and saving biodiversity are inherently linked argue scientists
(09/17/2009) Twenty-nine scientists argue in Science today that the world will not be able to lift up the world's poor unless it also addresses global biodiversity loss. They say that the same underlying problems—exploitation of resources, unsustainable overconsumption, climate change, population growth—are exacerbating global poverty and the extinction of species.